June 4, 2021
Vedder Price is pleased to announce that Sheryl (Sherry) Skibbe has joined the firm as a Shareholder in its Labor & Employment practice area in the Los Angeles office. Ms. Skibbe previously served as a Partner at Seyfarth Shaw and also has experience working in-house for Faraday Future, where she served as Assistant General Counsel.
Ms. Skibbe is an experienced litigator with strong record of success representing global clients in the defense of complex class, collective, and representative actions and high-risk lawsuits. These cases include claims alleging misclassification of employees as exempt or as independent contractors; "off the clock" work including alleged unpaid training time, security checks, and regular rate violations; denied reimbursements; miscalculation of commissions and bonuses; failure to pay prevailing wages; and meal and rest break violations.
She also counsels employers, conducts audits, and provides training in compensation and wage and hour issues, business restructuring, employment policy creation and application, worker classification and reclassifications, workforce management, discrimination and harassment training, disability and accommodation issues, mass layoffs and workplace safety.
“Sherry’s in-house experience, coupled with her employment law and litigation knowledge, allows us to meet the expanding needs of our clients,” said Elizabeth N. Hall, Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment practice area. “She adds significant depth to our California employment services and we are thrilled to have her on board.”
“Vedder Price’s Labor & Employment group has always impressed me,” said Ms. Skibbe. “I look forward to contributing my perspective and experience to help serve our clients on the West Coast and nationwide.”
Ms. Skibbe earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. She received an M.I.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and earned her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
June 3, 2021
Vedder Price is pleased to announce that Stephanie Collett Sparks has joined the firm as a Shareholder in its Litigation practice area in the Dallas office.
Ms. Sparks focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation, health care, and energy transactional and regulatory matters. She counsels clients on complex transactional and regulatory matters in the energy and health care industries. Her extensive finance and complex commercial litigation experience includes representing clients in contract disputes, financial services lawsuits, class actions, securities suits, fraud, theft of trade secrets and business torts.
She has substantial experience as lead counsel in both energy litigation and regulatory matters representing utilities, investors, retail electric providers (REPs), power developers, owners of conventional and renewable generation, and other banking and financial clients in breach of contract suits; business litigation; utility service disputes; energy project transactions; and regulatory proceedings and contested cases before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). She has broad experience interpreting and complying with the complex regulatory requirements that govern energy developers, REPs and utilities’ operations within the PUCT and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
“Stephanie’s significant trial experience and regulatory knowledge in the energy and health care sectors adds industry-specific depth to our practice and also gives us an experienced and seasoned litigator on the ground in Texas,” said Thomas P. Cimino, Chair of the firm’s Litigation practice area. Noting the firm’s recent expansion into Dallas, Mr. Cimino added, “Her addition increases the considerable momentum we are experiencing as we build our Dallas office and we are excited to have her as a member of the Vedder Price litigation team.”
“I was particularly drawn to the firm’s focus on client service and the opportunity to contribute and help build out our presence in Dallas,” said Ms. Sparks. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues in Dallas and across all of the firm’s offices.”
Prior to joining Vedder Price, Ms. Sparks spent her career with Jackson Walker. She earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law with honors, and her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin with honors.
June 7, 2021
Vedder Price is pleased to announce that it represented SKY Leasing (“SKY”), a full-service aircraft leasing company, in connection with the issuance of $663 million of secured notes (the “Notes”) by SLAM 2021-1 Limited and SLAM 2021-1 LLC (“SLAM”). SLAM expects to use a portion of the proceeds of the Notes to acquire a portfolio of 16 Airbus and Boeing aircraft valued at approximately $885 million. The portfolio features the youngest average aircraft age for an aircraft ABS ever issued, with an average age of 1.6 years and a weighted average lease term of 11.1 years. The portfolio includes the highest concentration of next generation narrowbody aircraft for an aircraft ABS with 10 A321NEO aircraft in the portfolio. SKY will act as servicer for SLAM’s aircraft portfolio.
“We are delighted to have participated in SKY’s latest aircraft ABS. We are proud to continue to partner with SKY and look forward to our growing relationship as we continue to deliver our extensive global experience and capabilities in aviation finance and capital markets. In addition, we are proud that together we can help validate SKY’s investment approach and be a part of their long-term growth strategy,” said Global Transportation Finance Shareholder Raviv Surpin.
In addition to Mr. Surpin, the Vedder Price team included Global Transportation Finance Shareholders, Clay C. Thomas, Kevin A. MacLeod and Associates Simone M. Riley, Daniel Spivey and Lisa Clark.
May 20, 2021
Vedder Price is pleased to announce that Brent Connor has joined the firm as a Shareholder in its International Trade & Compliance (ITC) practice group in the firm’s Washington, DC office.
Mr. Connor focuses his practice on international trade, export controls and economic sanctions before the Department of State, Department of Commerce, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Customs and Border Protection. His extensive experience in the area of international trade includes advising U.S. and non-U.S. manufacturers, producers, government contractors, retailers, maritime companies and airlines on matters involving customs, export control, economic sanctions regulations, FCPA and anti-boycott issues.
Mr. Connor also represents major U.S. and non-U.S. airlines, including all-cargo airlines, before the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration in connection with compliance matters; Passenger Facility Charge and airport-related matters, defending hazardous materials enforcement actions; requests for approvals, licenses and certificates; route proceedings; codeshare issues; and other regulatory and administrative matters.
“With his ITAR, export control and FCPA knowledge and experience, Brent is exactly the right fit to help grow our ITC group,” said Jennifer Durham King, Chair of the firm’s Corporate practice area. “His transportation and aviation regulatory background also fits well with our Global Transportation Finance (GTF) practice and we look forward to working with him.”
“Vedder’s culture of collaboration and cross selling between attorneys and services is so important to growing a practice,” said Mr. Connor. “I’m excited to team up with Liz Silver in the ITC group, our distinguished GTF attorneys and the rest of my new colleagues to best serve our clients.”
Prior to joining Vedder Price, Mr. Connor served as Senior Counsel in the Transportation and International Trade groups at Thompson Hine. He earned his J.D. from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and his B.A. from Clark University. He is fluent in French.
Learn more about the firm’s International Trade & Compliance group here.
June 10, 2021
On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released updated and expanded technical assistance guidance regarding COVID-19 and, specifically, COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace (the “Guidance”). The Guidance is of particular importance to employers considering a return to work, and those evaluating whether (and how) they can require or incentivize their employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Highlights from the Guidance include the following:
Employers can require vaccination, with some exceptions.
Per the EEOC, employers can require that employees be fully vaccinated before entering the workplace, subject to the employer’s obligations to provide reasonable accommodations under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Employers must also ensure that any mandatory vaccination policy is administered in a non-discriminatory manner that does not have a disparate impact on any protected group.
Accommodations for disabilities. If an employee cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine as required by the employer, the EEOC maintains that the employer must, consistent with the ADA, engage in the interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation is available that will not cause an undue hardship. Notably, the EEOC confirmed that an employee who cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability cannot be excluded from the workplace unless the employer can determine that the employee is a “direct threat” to the employee or others in the workplace. In making such an assessment, an employer must undertake a fact-intensive analysis which considers a variety of factors, including the duration of risk; the nature and severity of and likelihood and imminence of the harm; current medical knowledge about COVID-19 generally and in relation to the employee; and facts specific to the employee’s working environment. If it is determined that the employee poses a direct threat, the employer must consider whether providing a reasonable accommodation (such as requiring the employee to wear a mask), absent undue hardship, would eliminate or reduce the threat.
In addition, the EEOC notes that individuals who are fully vaccinated but immunocompromised, and who therefore may not receive the full protections of the COVID-19 vaccine, may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation for their underlying disabilities due to a continuing concern that they face a heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (despite their vaccinated status).
Accommodations for religious beliefs, practices or observances. Per the EEOC, employers must engage in an interactive process with employees who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine due to their religious beliefs, practices or observances, and accommodate those employees where doing so does not pose an undue hardship. Consistent with prior guidance, the EEOC notes that the undue hardship standard in this circumstance is easier for the employer to meet than that under the ADA.
Accommodations for pregnancy. The EEOC notes that pregnant employees may be entitled to accommodations in relation to an employer’s mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine if such accommodations are provided to other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
Employers must consider confidentiality obligations in relation to vaccination information.
In the Guidance, the EEOC takes the position that information regarding an employee’s COVID-19 vaccination is protected confidential medical information under the ADA. Notably, however, the EEOC also states that an employer’s inquiries regarding an employee’s vaccination status, and its requests for documentation to confirm vaccination status, are not disability-related inquiries or medical examinations under the ADA. State privacy laws may also protect vaccine status information as well as proof of vaccination information. For this reason and in light of the EEOC’s position, employers are well advised to consider maintaining the confidentiality of vaccination status to the extent possible, and to tread carefully when contemplating actions which may reveal to others – including other employees, clients and customers – which of its employees are vaccinated, and which are not.
The EEOC further reiterated in the Guidance that an employer mandating the vaccine and administering it (directly or through a third party) to employees must be aware that certain required pre-vaccination screening questions will implicate the ADA. In order to ask those questions, therefore, the employer must have a reasonable belief that an employee who does not answer the questions and who cannot receive the vaccine will pose a “direct threat,” as stated above.
Employers may offer incentives for vaccination, with some exceptions.
The Guidance confirms that neither the ADA nor the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) are implicated if incentives are offered (i) to employees (or their family members) to voluntarily receive the vaccine from a third party unrelated to the employer or (ii) to employees to provide documentation confirming their vaccination status. Employers administering the vaccine (themselves or through an agent), however, are cautioned in the Guidance that under the ADA any incentive offered to employees who take the vaccine may not be “coercive.” While “coercive” is not defined, the EEOC notes that prohibited incentives may include those that are “very large” and which therefore “could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information” as part of the pre-vaccination screening process. Further, per the EEOC, employers will run afoul of GINA if they offer incentives to an employee in exchange for the employee’s family member’s receipt of a vaccination from an employer or its agent.
While the Guidance is informative, employers must be mindful that their obligations and rights under state and local laws – including in relation to confidentiality and whether they can inquire about vaccination status or mandate a COVID-19 vaccine – may differ than those espoused by the EEOC. Employers are therefore encouraged to evaluate their vaccination practices and programs with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
If you have any questions regarding the topics discussed in this article, please contact Elizabeth N. Hall at +1 (312) 609-7795, Patrick W. Spangler at +1 (312) 609 7797, Kathryn A. Rosenbaum at +1 (312) 609-7973 or any Vedder Price attorney with whom you have worked.
June 1, 2021
In this issue:
- SEC’s Division of Examinations Issues Risk Alert on ESG Investing
- SEC Reaffirms Guidance for Conducting Shareholder Meetings during Pandemic
- SEC’s Division of Examinations Issues Risk Alert Cautioning Firms to Comply with Suspicious Activity Monitoring and Reporting
- FINRA Issues Guidance on Sales Charge Discounts and Waivers for Investment Company Products
- SEC Staff of Division of Investment Management Issues Statement on Registered Funds Investing in Bitcoin Futures
- SEC Publishes List of Rules Scheduled for Review under Regulatory Flexibility Act
- Massachusetts Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Certain Counterclaims Regarding Closed-End Fund Bylaw Amendments
Download the Investment Services Regulatory Update below.
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At Vedder Price, we are dedicated to promoting an environment that recognizes, respects and appreciates the individual differences among us and promotes both the individual success of our people and our ability to serve clients to the best of our ability as an organization. Follow along on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as we celebrate Pride Month this June with firmwide activities and events focused on the importance of diversity in law and support of the LGBTQ+ community.
May 25, 2021
Join Vedder Price Shareholders to discuss the practical and legal issues that employers should consider as they plan their full or partial return to the workplace.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
10:00 a.m. PT | 12:00 p.m. CT | 1:00 p.m. ET
Who should attend: This event is intended for in-house counsel and human resource professionals.
Our webinar will provide practical planning guidance on the following subjects:
- Current laws and guidance governing when and how an employer can return to the workplace
- Considerations for keeping the workplace safe
- The impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on return to work
- Implications of allowing continued (or permanent) remote work arrangements
Return to Work Survey
In advance of the webinar, please complete the survey located within your RSVP link about your company’s plan to return to work. We will use these responses to tailor the presentation. Thank you!
CLE & HRCI Credit Pending
Vedder Price is an accredited CLE provider in California, Illinois and New York and, when possible, a sponsor in Virginia and Texas.
The use of this official seal confirms that this Activity has met HR Certification Institute’s® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.